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Rare separately issued Revolutionary War era edition of Bellin's important sea chart of the Gulf Coast, Florida and the Caribbean.

As noted in the title, this is the second edition of the chart, which has been significantly revised and updated from the prior edition, as can been seen from a comparison to the earlier chart.

The changes throughout the map are significant, from the changes in the interior of Texas, to the better understanding of the course of the rivers and contours of the coastline throughout the Gulf Coast. The additions and updating are evident throughout Central America and the Caribbean.

Perhaps most significant change (and the one which would continue to change over the next several decades) is the vastly different treatment of southern Florida. In this edition, Bellin has broken up the Peninsula into a vast archipelago of massive islands, beginning in the Central par of Florida's east coast. In the south, there is a massive channel shown between the area between Miami (which would not appear on a map for another 70 years) and the islands west of the region. The entire Gulf Coast has been re-worked and a number of new Bays and other coastal features are represented for the first time on this second edition of the map.

The revisions to the map tell a marvelous story of the evolution of the map from its first appearance in 1749. A link to the 1749 edition can be found here: /gallery/detail/24516

There also exists a significantly revised (and perhaps entirely different) later state of this chart, which is titled "Seconde Editione, Annee 17." Some observers have noted that "Annee 17" means the 17th year of the French Republic, commenced in 1791, making the chart circa 1808. However, it would seem that the chart is probably not a post-French Revolution map, as the words "Vaisseau du Roy" still appear in the title and Bellin is referenced as "Conseur Royale" a well, two facts that strongly suggest that the French Revolution had not yet commenced.

In comparing the two "Seconde Editiones," we note that the directions of the wind arrows have been revised and that the lettering in the "Annee 17" example is significantly different and also bears "no 67" in the top right corner, as well as an extra "explication" box below the title. We believe that the two charts were printed from entirely different copper plates and this may be part of the same series of charts which bears the engraver name "Brunn", which has been attributed to an Italian engrager.

A link to the Annee 17 edition can be found here: /gallery/detail/17600

This edition of the chart is apparently quite rare on the market.

Depot de la Marine Biography

The Dépôt de la Marine, known more formally as the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine, was the central charting institution of France. The centralization of hydrography in France began in earnest when Jean-Baptiste Colbert became First Minister of France in 1661. Under his watch, the first Royal School of Hydrography began operating, as did the first survey of France’s coasts (1670-1689). In 1680, Colbert consolidated various collections of charts and memoirs into a single assemblage, forming the core of sources for what would become the Dépôt.

The Dépôt itself began as the central deposit of charts for the French Navy. In 1720, the Navy consolidated its collection with those government materials covering the colonies, creating a single large repository of navigation. By 1737, the Dépôt was creating its own original charts and, from 1750, they participated in scientific expeditions to determine the accurate calculation of longitude.

In 1773, the Dépôt received a monopoly over the composition, production, and distribution of navigational materials, solidifying their place as the main producer of geographic knowledge in France.  Dépôt-approved charts were distributed to official warehouses in port cities and sold by authorized merchants. The charts were of the highest quality, as many of France’s premier mapmakers worked at the Dépôt in the eighteenth century, including Philippe Bauche, Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, Rigobert Bonne, Jean Nicolas Buache, and Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré.

The Dépôt continued to operate until 1886, when it became the Naval Hydrographic Service. In 1971, it changed names again, this time to the Naval and Oceanographic Service (SHOM). Although its name has changed, its purpose is largely the same, to provide high quality cartographic and scientific information to the France’s Navy and merchant marine.